By: Kathy Allen
Publisher: Lerner Publishing
Publication Date: March 2012
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Reviewe Date: March 2012
Most people do know that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, but what was the rest of the story? Christopher Columbus's ideas didn't meet with immediate approval. In fact he had a lot of trouble convincing anyone that his idea of "finding a western route to Asia" was logical, let alone workable. He was born in 1451 in Genoa, a seaside community. As a young man of fourteen, he was already working for seafaring traders and by 1473 he "took part in a trip to Chios Island in the Aegean Sea." A latter journey found him literally floating in the Atlantic after an attack on his fleet, but this misfortune did little to deter him from wanting to find that western route.
Columbus moved to Lisbon, Portugal and began working with his brother Bartholomew in a map shop. With additional knowledge and sailing time under his belt, he asked King John II to fund his dream of a westward voyage. The answer was no. In 1485 Columbus moved to Spain, once again making his request to its rulers, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Few people believed that his idea of sailing west "would put Spain in direct contact with the Far East--China, Japan, and other parts of Southeast Asia" was even remotely feasible. Columbus was a determined man and was not one to give up easily.
There were numerous reasons the Spanish were anxious to find a shorter route to the East, including the fact that they craved their spices, including "cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and sugar." Other explorers had found a way to the East by sailing around the tip of Africa into the Indian Ocean. Would Kind Ferdinand and Queen Isabella ever sponsor Columbus? They would. In this book you'll also learn about his family, the lands he hoped to explore, how he presented his case to the monarchy, his extraordinary demands, the Christian beliefs of the time, the voyages he made to the New World, the ships he sailed, the men who helped sail them, where they landed, and you'll learn many other interesting facts about Columbus's amazing voyages.
Prefacing each section, save the introduction and the first chapter, is a question that gives a hint of what the chapter will be about. For example, before the chapter that expresses Columbus's and the monarchy's "High Hopes" for his voyages, the question asks: "What did Columbus expect to find in China and the Far East? This book goes well beyond the simple, pat recital of common facts I've seen in juvenile texts, making it into a fascinating read. More detailed information, such as the types of ships (caravels and the nao) are included. Difficult or unusual words such as "inlet" or "aground" are circled and explained in the margins, thus eliminating the need for a glossary. The book is generously illustrated with maps, archival art reproductions, and numerous informative sidebars. In the back of the book is an index, a timeline (1451 to 1744), source notes, a selected bibliography, and an additional recommended book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: This is a fun, informative overview of Christopher Columbus and his amazing voyages and New World discoveries.